Global CEOs Call for Greater Disclosure of Climate Risks

The heads of major global businesses are urging G20 governments to formally accept that companies should disclose climate-related financial risks.

The 27 business leaders were convened by the World Economic Forum and include the chief executive officers of global banks, consumer goods and utility companies. They are asking G20 leaders to act on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an industry-led body chaired by the UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

Together, the business leaders represent $4.9 trillion in assets under management and almost $700 billion in total revenue.

In an open message, they say that climate change is not only an environmental problem but also a business one. Improving disclosure of the material financial risks companies face from climate change is critical to the financial stability of markets and would enable greater investment in low-carbon and climate-friendly opportunities.

The message is timed as G20 finance ministers meet in Washington DC for the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.

The business leaders stress that G20 support would “send a strong signal that government leaders desire more transparency from business on the short- and long-term impact of climate change on their operations’”. They added that they “welcome the current TCFD recommendations and will actively support their successful implementation”.

They believe that universal agreement on climate disclosure would help investors make more informed long-term decisions while highlighting the financial risks of the physical impacts of climate change and liability risks that may arise from inaction.

“There are real financial risks associated with climate change and financial opportunities for companies in transitioning to a low-carbon economy,” said Richard Samans, Head of the Centre for the Global Agenda, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum Geneva. “One of the biggest risks to market stability and performance is asymmetry of information. Increasing companies’ disclosure of their climate risks – and standardizing that disclosure – will go a long way to addressing this current market failure and will help governments deliver the Paris Agreement.”

It would also create greater visibility on how companies are managing these risks and where they are able to take advantage of new opportunities. Greater visibility of climate risks would help an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy.

The group said that risk disclosure was not a climate change panacea but should be part of a suite of complementary approaches to recalibrate the financial system to support the transition to low-carbon economies, citing the need for effective carbon pricing and the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.

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